Google+ Mars Travel: Mars Photo of the Day - Jan 1 2012

Mars Photo of the Day - Jan 1 2012

Today's Image of Mars shows the Phlegra Montes mountain range in a region that radar probing has indicated is full of subsurface water ice. It is thought that a manned mission to Mars could use this as water.

Phlegra Montes is a mountain range on Mars that extends from the northeastern Elysium volcanic province to the northern lowlands. Unlike the mountains in the Tharsis region of Mars, these ones are likely not volcanic in origin, but rather were formed by ancient tectonic forces that pushed different areas of the surface together.

Examination of this region shows that almost every mountain is surrounded by by a 'lobate debris apron,' or curved features that generally surround mountains and plateaus at these altitudes. (ESA) These lobate features appear to have moved down the mountain slopes over time, similar to terrestial glacial features. This conclusion has been affirmed by radar from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The radar suggests that water ice could be as close as 20m to the surface.

Scientists speculate that these mid latitude glaciers formed a few hundred million years ago when the polar axis of Mars was much different than it was today and the climactic conditions were much different.

This image was taken by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). Clicking on this image will take you to the hi-res version of this image. [See the original Phlegra Montes article from the ESA]


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